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COACH Speaks

People: Powerful Healthcare Allies
Posted Thursday March 31, 2016 4:25 PM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary
Daniel PennDaniel Penn is a COACH member and CEO/Co-Founder at Shift Health.

Before the h
ealthcare industry existed, an individual who fell ill sought help from a healer,  shaman, nurse or doctor. From this simple transaction, healthcare has evolved into a unique industry. It now involves broad and complex organizations with standards and outcomes where "average" is often considered a failure and failure can be fatal. Very few industries have stakes as high as this. As such, we need the smartest, best trained professionals to make sure that no mistakes are made. 

In theory, the smartest, best trained doctors with the best tools available would equate to success. However, this is the not the feeling that many have about the industry. There could be many reasons for this, but I believe it is because we have constructed a top-down industry and forgotten about who it was really built for: People. 

It seems the industry has awoken and is beginning to embrace the attitude that patients are people who can be powerful allies in improving outcomes and reducing costs. This basic realization has the potential to have the single largest impact on healthcare for the next generation, but like many paradigm shifts, change won’t be easy to implement.

What has excited me most about healthcare is this cultural shift where most organization's missions are beginning to call for a patient-centric healthcare model; care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values and ensures that these guide all clinical decisions.

We are already seeing this beginning to take place. 
  • Co-Creation Development: Most vendors and larger healthcare organizations are adopting this methodology where processes, technologies and engagements are built with input from multiple stakeholders. Patients, designers and healthcare providers come together to solve problems, building something that everyone will want to use, not just have to use. 
  • Patient Empathy: The move towards collecting patient experience measures during and after their care journey is providing organizations with the ability to empathize with and understand their patient population. It can help healthcare organizations make decisions that are based upon the values of the patients.

It is incredible to witness patients going out of their way to become more involved in their care. As an industry it is now our turn to, not only engage, but to listen and respond, or we risk alienating the biggest ally the healthcare industry has: People.

Last Updated Thursday March 31, 2016 4:21 PM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary
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Reimagining Healthcare Connecting Care at e-Health '16 Sunday Symposium!
Posted Thursday March 10, 2016 10:55 AM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary

Meet the Bloggers: Kimberly Harvey is Director, Integration Services with the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Susan Sepa is Group Director, Clinical System Interoperability with Canada Health Infoway. Grant Gillis is Executive Director, Forums & Practices with COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association.

One of the exciting new features of the upcoming e-Health 2016 Conference is the Sunday Symposium on June 5!

Collaboratively brought to you by COACH, Canada Health Infoway and CIHI, the new Sunday Symposium program is designed to offer something for everyone in Canada’s health informatics community, including clinicians, administrators, analysts, vendors, government agencies, regulatory authorities, academics, researchers and students!

Dr. Joshua MandelThemed as “Reimagining Healthcare – Connecting Care,” this year’s Sunday Symposium features renowned national and international experts presenting on the newest integration tools and their positive impact on clinical workflow and practice. Join us and understand the latest experiences of leading digital health developers and users towards connecting care for optimal patient outcomes!  

- Dr. Joshua Mandel, Harvard Medical School (top right), on “Novel Integration Tools for Clinicians in a Duane BenderHealthcare Setting – Experiences from Boston Children’s Hospital” 

- Duane Bender (right), and Gavin Tong (right, third down) on “Improving Real-World Clinical Systems – The Canadian Engagement”

Also featured in the program are participative workshops offered by Infoway, COACH and CIHI on the topics of Gavin Tongclinical requirements in electronic solutions, virtual care best practices and data to action for health system improvement.  

The Sunday Symposium also offers collegial opportunities, so you can look forward to renewing old friendships and making new ones at the networking luncheon. The luncheon will once again host the Dr. Mo Watanabe Honorary Lecture, with this year’s speaker, Eyrin Tedesco, Senior Clinical Lead of the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) Telehealth Expansion Project,, presenting on the growth and success of the FNHA telehealth program in British Columbia!

With the program set to offer several different accreditations, your time spent at the Sunday Symposium will not only be personally rewarding, but also professionally educating!

Mark this page on your browser and watch for all sorts of social media in the weeks ahead to let you know the latest in program updates!

Visit the 
e-Health 2016 website for more information about the Sunday Symposium.


Last Updated Thursday March 10, 2016 5:18 PM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary
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The Impact of Wearables in Health Informatics
Posted Friday March 4, 2016 11:15 AM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary
Andre PiresAndré Pires, Product Analyst, EHR, with the Ontario Chiropractic Association, is the Community Leader with the COACH Academic Community of Interest and a COACH EHIP Forum Emerging Professionals Advisory Committee general member.   

I am a healthcare wearable technology nerd. This is a very specific niche of geekiness that means finding others who share my passion for the potential of wearable devices to change the health informatics (HI) industry often proves to be a difficult task. You can imagine my excitement when COACH gave me the opportunity to interview fellow wearable tech sympathizer Tom Forbes. Tom is the Director of Healthcare Business Development and Strategy at TELUS (a COACH member). I was able to ask him some questions on the subject of wearable technology and its potential impact on HI.

Tom Forbes Q: To start off, can you tell us a bit about the Fitbit Challenge that TELUS started for its employees and what the results were?

"The Fitbit challenge is a voluntary wellness campaign run every six to eight months by TELUS. TELUS employees split up into teams – fitness trackers strapped to their wrists – which are linked to software to help record and compare their activity. With anywhere between 800 to 1,000 employees participating in each campaign, the initiative has been well received by employees. TELUS uses this initiative as an opportunity to talk about and promote corporate health and fitness to other companies, as well as setting an example within our own organization."

Q: Where do you see wearable devices being the most impactful in the healthcare sector?
"TELUS Health sees a common trend of healthcare moving from hospital and acute care to community and home care. As an example, let’s talk about Jim, a senior patient with chronic heart failure who has just undergone surgery at the hospital. After surgery, the hospital will begin tracking Jim’s biometrics. With clinical grade wearable monitors, the patient can be discharged earlier and continue the monitoring at home on an ongoing basis. Jim can then use his personal health record (PHR) to connect his metrics to the care team’s electronic medical record (EMR), allowing for better tracking and collaboration in his recovery plan. The next step would be to move the patient to a fitness tracker to continue his personal engagement and incentive to adhere to the care plan.

"Collecting and tracking these additional measures have shown to decrease hospital remittance by up to 75%. It works in the short term to discharge the patient sooner and in the long term to get the patient better."

Q: The wearable tech market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 60% in the next few years. What improvements can the HI community make to prepare itself and benefit from the increase in data that will be generated by this growth in adoption?
"The increase in data comes from wearable devices facilitating the collection of patient information. Diabetics can now accurately test their blood sugar on a daily basis and share this information with their health practitioners. Previously, this information was only captured by the healthcare system every three months during their doctor’s visit. The gap that the HI community needs to fill is a way to store this data securely while developing analytical tools to turn the increasing amounts of data into useful information."

What do you believe is the greatest challenge for wearable technology in the HI industry?
"The greatest challenge is not in the technology itself, but in getting the information out of the data. How do we best use the immense data stream that is available? Tracking the number of steps one takes is great for curiosity, but we must link the data beyond daily activity tracking to personalized care. Wearable devices will be the data source and predictive analytics will turn this data into valuable information. With personalized care comes the inevitable transformation from hospital to community care, shifting the responsibility of care more and more into the hands of the patients."

COACH works as a valuable platform for enabling the collaboration of HI professionals and the advancement of the industry. The HI industry is made up of a diverse community of people working together to better the healthcare system and patient care. With the promise of better patient outcomes, earlier hospital discharge and decreased hospital remittance, the inevitable rise of wearable technology has already begun to infiltrate the healthcare system. I urge my fellow members to embrace the positive impacts this technology will have in HI and keep them in mind when considering the future direction of our industry.

Worldwide Wearable Computing Device 2014–2018 Forecast and Analysis (IDC #247318, March 2014)

Last Updated Thursday March 10, 2016 5:20 PM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary
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Apps, Scalability & Patient Care
Posted Wednesday February 10, 2016 4:30 PM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary

Maggie HanlonMaggie Hanlon is a Senior Project Analyst at University Health Network and a member of the COACH Emerging Professional Advisory Committee and eHIP Forum.

Ever since I read about the myHip&Knee app that was developed for the Holland Orthopedic & Arthritic Centre (part of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ont.), I’ve been thinking about the scalability of this app and others. myHip&Knee supports patients before a hip or knee replacement surgery (appointment reminders) and after surgery (exercise videos, daily health checks, pictures, etc.). Women’s College Hospital (Toronto, Ont.) had a pilot in the spring of 2015 that offered similar post-operative follow-up for orthopaedic and breast reconstruction patients. Having recently gone through a knee surgery, I can’t help but think I would have benefited from an app like one of these.

At first I thought it would be simple to have nationwide apps – market one app to all patients who are having these surgeries, across Canada. I was telling a medical student friend about it and she pointed out that surgeons use different recovery protocols. It would be trickier than I originally thought. I couldn’t help but continue to think about how hospitals and healthcare providers across the country are investing in mHealth and developing similar apps.

PwC says there are tens of thousands of mobile health apps and the number is growing. The cynic in me expects that there will be more and more redundancy as new apps are developed across the county. mHealth apps aren’t currently regulated in Canada, yet mHealth apps fit into the medical device category. If health apps aren’t regulated in Canada, is there a way to ensure there aren’t similar apps being developed in different parts of the country, serving the same purpose for patients and care providers? How can health apps be scaled up?

Let’s say a healthcare provider or hospital develops its own app in-house. Are bragging rights enough for the organization/individual to share the app with care providers across the country? And, of course, let’s not forget about the privacy and security implications with such an app that involves multiple organizations. Is nationwide app scalability even a possibility?

Some apps that are patient-focused and don’t involve the provider, exist nationwide, like My MedicAlert (read more) and ImmunizeCA (which I downloaded only two weeks ago). Both are fairly new on the Canadian mHealth scene. How much longer until more mHealth apps can be used nationwide? Is there an opportunity for regions or provinces to curate apps in order to serve specific purposes or patient populations?

Ultimately, the most important benefits of mHealth are for the patient. Now, months after surgery, I think back to how helpful an app would have been for me: to see pictures of normal swelling, or have the ability to track and share my pain levels with my surgeon and physio. It also would have been helpful to have easily accessible videos of exercises to help me with my own rehabilitation. All in all, I got through the recovery process without an app, but I hope future patients can benefit from having one.

Last Updated Wednesday February 10, 2016 4:38 PM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary
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Thank You Members for Driving a Future-Focused COACH!
Posted Tuesday December 8, 2015 3:00 PM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary

Mike BarronHappy Holidays COACH Members!

As we approach the end of 2015, I extend warm thanks to you and all COACH members for supporting our association throughout the year. This past year was exciting as we celebrated COACH’s rich 40-year history while transitioning new leadership and laying the groundwork to ensure the association remains relevant and responsive to the changing Canadian healthcare environment.

Your passion, innovative ideas, time and energy are driving progress at COACH which is absolutely essential to health informatics (HI) professionals and the profession. Members like you, for example, made the CHIEF Discussion Papers a true success. The end products are excellent resources packed with research and recommendations about P3 funding models as well as hospital information systems return-on-investment. Just as importantly, this project built valuable bridges between newer professionals and veteran leaders.

Happy HolidaysThe multi-faceted contributions in 2015 included the members who greatly enhanced our professional development offerings as volunteer presenters in the expanded weekly Webinar Wednesdays series. CPHIMS-CA-credentialed members also made huge contributions to content development for the comprehensive “CPHIMS-CA Credential Preparation for Canadian Health Informatics Professionals.” This review course is designed for organizations with multiple employees preparing to write the exams. 
(Watch for details in 2016.)   

Going Virtual
As HI professionals, huge impacts on our roles are occurring as foundational changes are happening in healthcare through mHealth, virtual care and personalized medicine, to name but a few factors.  So, in keeping with the COACH commitment to advance the adoption, practice and professionalism of HI, the association is changing to meet new and emerging needs. The national office transition to a virtual office, under the direction of CEO Mark Casselman, is an important part of the work to create the future for COACH. Mark’s substantial experience in digital health and innovation is a great asset to our association at this time and the move to the virtual office, effective Jan. 4, 2016, will enable COACH to make the most effective use of resources to benefit members without interrupting service delivery.

On behalf of the entire Board of Directors and national office team, I wish you a safe, peaceful holiday and very Happy New Year.  (Note: The COACH office will close for the holidays at 5 pm ET Dec. 23 and reopen at 8:30 am ET Jan. 4, 2016.)


Mike Barron
President & Board Chair, COACH

If you have ideas about making COACH the best it can be in 2016 and beyond, please send them to me via info@coachorg.com
or tweet them to @COACH_HI.   


Last Updated Wednesday December 9, 2015 1:57 PM - MacVicar-Elliott, RoseMary
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